Friday, July 29, 2016

Gear Friday: Gear when its not in use

When you get a ton of gear, keeping it stored can present its own challenge. I have my entire basement dedicated to equipment, other than the laundry room (which has a few odds and ends in it yet) and my workshop (which holds unfinished instruments.)

This is where I have my amps, cabinets and instruments that I'm currently playing. I've been playing a lot of bass lately, but it's about to be rotated back to guitar.

This view allows you to see all the wall hanging guitars along that side of the basement.

The triggered drums, some odds and ends cymbal wise, connectors and misc hardware on the shelves, and a couple of acoustic guitars. I might also point out the contractor lighting for when I do videos. Good light is always important for that.

This furniture currently holds all of the wireless microphones I need to check out. I think there were 8 complete units for me to look at, but I don't really remember.

They're mostly these rackmount lav units, but with replaceable microphone pieces so I can convert them to headset easily enough.

An extra boom, monitors, a keyboard, an extra mixer behind that, and some rack case ends.

Here is my odds-n-ends corner. I have my floorboard, some Peavy 1012HS speakers, a couple of small speakers I can use as more monitors, another floorboard (for simple setups), a suitcase full of microphone cables, and my big rack holding all of the amps and components I don't currently use. That would include a powered mixer, an old USA series QSC amp, a Crown amp, a Crate amp, and a 1/4" in/out DBX crossover. I also have a 4x10 cabinet and a Hartke head hiding back there. That corner may be packed full.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My basic DAW

Since I've been doing some recording, I thought it was time to show off my DAW setup.

I have a Dell laptop as the heart of the system. It's got a hybrid drive (part solid state, part "traditional" magnetic drive) that seems to keep up quite well with most of what I do. For software, I typically use Reaper. I also have a Behringer headphone amp between the laptop and the mouse for when I have someone over that's doing their part since it works as a nice headphone splitter with individual volume controls.

But the laptop itself doesn't really do all that much when it comes to recording. I have a Presonus Studio Channel in the top rack slot, an Alesis SampleRack for triggered drums, a Tascam US16x08 audio board for 16 channels in at a time, a Behringer UltraVoice vocal pre-amp, a Nady 8 channel mic pre, a power conditioner and my Line 6 Pod Pro.

Most of the time, all I really need is my Tascam to get the recordings sounding pretty good. Couple that with a fantom powered condenser microphone and I can record guitar, bass or vocals pretty easily. Drums require a few more microphones, but again - it works out pretty good in a hurry.

I'll delve more into my microphone selection shortly. For now, the DAW and some of the outboard gear is all I'm highlighting.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Build Monday : Time for a little shine on El Capitan

Since I was able to get the shield looking decent on El Capitan, this week was time to make it shine. Yes, it was smooth enough to get a little shine, but I wanted it to be that deep gloss type that looks totally "wow".

Got it set up in the garage. Not much of a breeze this day, so it should be a great day for a smooth finish.

If you look close, you can see a bike tire in the reflection. That's the type of gloss I was looking for.

Turning on the light, yes! Smooth, shiny, and wow. That's just what I was looking for. I need to get the sides and back done yet, but it's well on its way to being just what I was looking for on this finish. Once I get that glossed, I'll be ready to set the neck so I can start installing hardware.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Gear Friday: Gelvin Guitars EVH Beast

One of my favorite guitars has no logo on the headstock. Instead, it's an unfinished neck on a body built by Gelvin Guitars with a custom wound pickup, all done to Eddie's original specs. Add in a wild hot pink to fluorescent yellow version of the EVH finish, and it's very eye catching. Black lights make it even more so.

But more important than how it looks (from behind the instrument, anyway) is how it plays. This one, I can gladly report, plays better than any Fender I've ever touched, and almost as well as my best Ibanez guitars without the thin neck. That part always shocks me, since that thin neck is what I've always looked for. Additionally, the pickup is hot yet crisp, so the output level compares to my EMG active guitars while still having the clarity and tone that I really wanted out of it.

As you can see, I'm quite comfortable behind this guitar. I've played it a ton and haven't had a string break. In fact, in the over a year that I've been playing it, I rarely have to tune it, unless we're playing outdoors and the temperature drops drastically.

Overall, I'd have to say Gelvin really did a great job on this one. Look, feel and sound are all amazing.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why am I starting another band?

I've been in plenty of bands, so why am I looking at starting another one? This one is a bit different in a few ways.

1) It's made up of musicians I really like and respect.

2) It's a contemporary / rock praise band, starting out with covers of Skillet, Thousand Foot Crutch and others.

3) The songs we intend to record are old school worship tunes that we're modernizing.

If you really know me, you know my faith is important to me. So it just feels right to do something in His name for once musically outside of just playing in the church. We'll see how this goes, but I'm pretty excited to have musicians pretty much lined up for this already.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Build Monday: El Capitan's namesake

I've been asked why "El Capitan" received that name. Well, it should be quite obvious after today's progress picture.

Yep, it's a Captain America theme on the guitar. I also changed up the pickguard with some plastic paint. Time for the clear coat, a bit of glue to set the neck, and then we can get to some hardware. This one has certainly caught a few eyes already, and I've even had offers to buy it. Sorry, but I'm planning to play this for a while first.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Gear Friday: Ibanez BioArmor

Sometimes, I walk in to a guitar shop and just know something was on the rack for me. This happened one day after a great trip to the casino. As a guitaraholic, cash and guitar shops go together way too well, so when I spotted an Ibanez BioArmor hanging there brand new and with a reasonable pricetag (it was special order and the guy never picked it up or paid for it), I knew I needed it. It played sweet, and the owner of the shop threw on brand new Super Slinks, gave it a quick setup and sent me out the door with a free gig bag thrown in. Of course, on stage all black will never do, so I grabbed my white stencil ink for tennis racquets to give a first layer through the grooves, then used a setting saver for a second layer and more of a color to show up under the lights. End result is below.

For a nice looking guitar, it also plays quite well. I've used it at several shows and would put it right up against my Prestige for feeling, with the Prestige edging it out slightly due to the wider neck. Still, for standard spacing, this one plays great. I really love the thin necks, and this is one of the thinnest I've experienced. But it truly is the finish that got me to try it out in the first place, and it really catches the lights nicely on stage.

If you spot one of these, don't hesitate to grab it and try it out. They're solid.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Moving on from guitar kits

I've built a few guitar kits, and have a few more that I'm working on, but I feel it's time to move on and really challenge myself. That's why I'm moving into the world of CNC routers. I grabbed an X-Carve from Inventables, and while the assembly process left a lot to be desired (only instructions are online, for one and being shorted screws and nuts for another) I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.

Now for the tricky part - guitar blanks are typically 14" wide, but most thickness planers are 12-1/2" wide until you get into the really expensive models. I'm still looking for solutions to that problem.

Once assembly is finally complete and I have it running, I'll post some pics and maybe even a video. My son is really excited, as he wants to help me build guitars as a career. We'll see how long that lasts.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Build Monday: El Capitan turns blue

After some white primer, El Capitan was ready for some painting.

El Capitan got a blue makeover, as did my portable work bench and my Craftsman screwdriver. I needed some way to hold it without touching any area of the guitar that is supposed to be painted. That's where the screwdriver came in.

After walking around it a few times, the blue was pretty evenly applied.

A nice shine can already be seen along that top edge.

That long edge makes for a lot of blue.

A close-up view shows that the grain still shows through since this is a translucent blue.

Again, the shine is already showing.

The pick guard, sitting about where it'll be located, just for contrast.

Closer view of the bridge and pickup area.

Next up will be giving this guitar its signature, and then on to clear coat.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Gear Friday: Bass Rig

Lately, I've been playing a bit of bass. That required me to dust off the bass rig, so here it is in all its glory.

I use a 4x10 and a 1x15 cabinet from Acoustic for my rig, all powered from a Hartke HA3500 head. I don't normally use the graphic eq, instead using the active eq on my bass. I like to mix the solid state pre about 30 - 40% and the tube pre at about 50% to get a little crunch without too much drive. Turn on the compressor and it's good to go.

One thing that I have had some problems with in the past is the DI out. With my own gear, it's always fine. Playing at venues using Behringer mixers, it always seems to go into the board at too low of a signal. I don't think it's really an issue with the board, but maybe either that I need to turn up the pre's or possibly even just teach people how to properly use the trim control on their board. Either way, I'm planning on changing to a different, lighter amp at some point. I think that will probably fix it.